GREAT MOMENTS IN DAD HISTORY!
Sometimes, as a dad, you look back on things and you realize what a fantastic job you’ve and you give yourself a pat on the back because, since it’s not Father’s Day, no one else will. Other times, you hope you haven’t completely ruined the precious childhood of your offspring. You might try to keep those moments to yourself, but, thanks to the miracle of the internet, now everyone gets to know how royally you screwed up. These are those moments.
The summer after my son turned four, we were sitting in the now-closed ESPN Zone in downtown Chicago eating lunch. I hadn’t planned on stopping there, but I recalled they had a game room on the second floor and I thought it would be fun.
Whenever we eat out I try to pick places where the kid’s menu, if there is one, includes a vegetable option because who doesn’t like vegetables? I’m just a cool dad like that. I wasn’t sure about ESPN Zone, though, which, as a symbol of total sports manliness, might only serve raw-egg smoothies or freshly killed meat or whatever athletes eat and/or inject these days. Fortunately, they had sides available and so I ordered some carrots for my son’s plate. It would go well with the cheeseburger sliders that should be a staple in any child’s diet. (Something like that. I sometimes get confused when I’m allowed to roam free.)
A few minutes into the meal, my son had a question for me.
“Bestest daddy in the world?” he asked politely. (Seriously, he said that… Why don’t you believe me?)
“What’s up, big guy?” I replied.
“If I eat too many carrots, will I turn into a rabbit?”
I don’t know where children get these kinds of ideas but I can assure you that it’s not from their dad. I was, of course, stunned.
Being a good father, and sensing an impending Great Moment in Dad History, I replied, “Yeah, of course you will. Where do you think rabbits come from?”
I don’t want to say he was shocked by this news, but he looked down at his plate without saying another word. Seeing that the matter was closed, I started to talk to him about the great game of baseball, which, when you live in Chicago, can be a pretty big deal. Suddenly, tears started rolling down his cute little four-year-old face and he started sobbing.
“What’s the matter, buddy?” I asked.
“I don’t want to turn into a rabbit.”
Well, it took some doing to convince him that in no way was he going to turn into a rabbit. He would have to eat all the carrots in the world, and even then, he might just get an upset stomach. So I was able to smooth out a mini-crisis and assure myself that my son would continue to eat vegetables as he grows up and not run from them screaming and into the waiting arms of a deep-dish pizza (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
And my son learned a valuable lesson: Dad is not trustworthy.
Of course, he never questions dad’s insistence that Santa Claus exists. I supposed when some old, bearded, overweight dude who lives with elves delivers the very gift you always wanted on the very day you hoped to get it, you don’t question it.
The Sled Hill
So I thought it would be a great idea to let my son watch The Empire Strikes Back. After all, he’d seen the original Star Wars and thought it was awesome. I think he was five.
So we watched it on a Saturday morning in January while we waited for the snow to finish covering the sled hill at the local park. Of course, he loved the movie and he liked Han Solo the best. I couldn’t argue. Many of the best Star Wars quotes come from Han Solo, as I would soon be reminded.
At the sled hill, we discovered that just about every soccer-mom in town had beat us there, but that’s what happens when you sit in front of the television for two hours instead of going outside. They were all pushing their innocent little urchins down the rather long and steep hill and having a grand time. So we trudged up the hill to find a spot where I could push my son down on his plastic, slightly warped sled, and partake in the grand time.
My son admitted that he was scared to go down the hill by himself, but he didn’t want to go down the hill with me either because I had a habit of trying to hit the man-made jump that some intrepid kid had built halfway down. Being a good dad, I thought I had a remedy for his fear.
First, I said I wouldn’t push him towards the jump (this may or may not have been true).
Second, having just watched The Empire Strikes Back, I thought the view from the top of the hill could have been from the ice world of Hoth. I mentioned this to my son and he suddenly wasn’t scared. He couldn’t wait for me to push him down the icy slops of Hoth.
I gripped the back of the sled as he sat down.
“Are you ready?” I asked.
“Yeah!” he said.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll see you at the bottom.”
Just as I pushed, and, therefore, could not un-push, he turned towards me and said, “And I’ll see you in hell!”
Thank you, Han Solo.
I think what made it better was the surrounding, utterly shocked group of young mothers who couldn’t believe what they had just heard, and what kind of father was I anyway?
Jeez. Doesn’t anyone like Star Wars anymore?
Tomorrow, we relive more “Great Moments in Dad History!”